Inmate population still growing in some states

Inmate populations are dropping in parts of the US, as state governments struggle to cut the cost of their prison systems.

But some states are bucking the trend.   Mississippi saw the number of people behind bars jump by roughly 1,000 inmates over the last two years, according to Mississippi Press.

“Maximizing public safety can be achieved without maximizing prison expenditures,” said Mississippi Department of Corrections Commissioner Chris Epps.

“Like I’ve said time after time – we need to figure out whom we’re are mad at and whom we’re afraid of. We need to consider alternatives to incarceration, especially for non-violent first time offenders.”

“The only way of reducing Mississippi’s prison population growth while protecting public safety is by diverting a greater number of low-risk offenders from prisons, reducing the time that low-risk offenders are in prisons, or a combination of these approaches,” added Epps, who is president-elect of the American Correctional Association.

Overall in the US, the number of inmates actually declined slightly last year, following four decades of dramatic increases.  The shift follows a dramatic decline in crime rates, and sentencing reform efforts in parts of the country.

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